Rivals' history breeds hatred

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

In case you were wondering, Ed Hervey still hates the Stampeders.

Standing on oh-so-familiar turf yesterday afternoon, the Eskimos head scout pointed toward the Stamps locker-room at the south end of McMahon Stadium and made it clear his feelings haven't changed much since he retired three years ago.

"There's a deep-rooted respect between the organizations, but there's also a hatred that you have," Hervey said. "When I say hate, it's not like I wake up in the morning thinking 'I hate those guys,' but in any rivalry, you have to have some motivation.

"Whether you're in the Green and Gold or you're in Red and White, you are taught from the time you get there that you hate the team opposite -- either north or south."

The bitter rivals will write another chapter in the Battle of Alberta this afternoon in the West Division semifinal at McMahon Stadium.

It's the 20th time the Stamps and Eskies have hooked up in the playoffs, dating back to a Western Interprovincial Football Union battle in 1952.

Between 1990-98, the two clubs met in the West Division final seven times.

From a come-from-behind victory in 1991 -- when receiver PeeWee Smith hauled in the game-winning touchdown strike from Danny Barrett and ran directly to the locker-room -- to a crushing defeat two years later that forced the Stamps to clear out their locker-room just days before the Grey Cup, former slotback Dave Sapunjis has a bank of Battle of Alberta memories.

"The old traditional rivalry seems to come to a head in playoff games," he said. "That great Red and White versus the Green and Gold tradition, and the excitement and energy, is always there."

The last time the provincial rivals clashed in the playoffs was in 2005, when the Stampeders throttled the Eskimos in the final week of the regular season but wound up on the wrong end of a 33-26 decision in the division semifinal.

Quarterback Henry Burris has spent plenty of time reflecting on that setback this week, saying the Stamps learned their lesson about taking their opponents too lightly.

Hervey hasn't forgotten, either. The all-star receiver won his second Grey Cup ring that fall.

The Stamps have won their last three games against the Eskimos, but guys on both sidelines insist that doesn't mean a thing now.

"Regardless of who wins, I don't think it's going to come down to what happened in the last two or three games," Hervey said. "What you do in the playoffs, when Calgary and Edmonton get together, is all going to happen that day. It will not be something that carries over from the season."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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